June 5, 2015
And another TGIF day to you! If my calculations are correct, we have passed the 1,000 mark in these Coffee Break articles during the past few weeks -- and that spans a period which began in December of 2004 on a sporadic basis. Beginning in January of 2005 and spanning several months, I actually tried to publish these posts on a daily basis. That schedule caught up with me and I had to back it off in stages.
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Time to move on. Thus far in this series, we have dealt only with the first dozen verses of Matthew 5 which are commonly referred to as "the Beatitudes." Now we're going to make a significant shift as we talk about an entirely different aspect of supernatural maturity -- that maturity represented in the character, nature and makeup of the Lord Jesus Christ. We’re going to shift gears going forward to describe the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, and how His nature in us influences the world around.
Matthew 5:13-16: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The standard KJV translation isn’t bad, but let’s see what we can do with it by retranslating and amplifying it.
"In the same way that salt personifies the need for seasoning, restraint and protection from spoilage or rotting, and preparation for soil to produce; in the same way that salt represents wisdom and grace in one’s speech and behavior, you are that grace and wisdom, that seasoning and protection for the world. You are that which restrains and holds back the execution of my judgment upon a world corrupted, spoiling and decaying in sin. If you lose the ability to season and influence the world around, you lose your usefulness [to the Kingdom] and, like salt that has lost its ability to make things palatable, and winds up being thrown out, you become worthless [to the Kingdom] and cease to have (spiritual) value, requiring that you be cast aside." (Matthew 5:13, RAC Translation and Amplification)
"[When I said, “Light be,” that was the light that brought this world into being. I AM that light.] (Because you are in me, and I AM in you, you are — likewise — the light of this world. That is a light one cannot hide.
"[As representatives of the New Jerusalem] you are like that City which is elevated on a high hill or mountain and cannot be hidden from view. (You have been made and destined to be visible to this world.)" (Matthew 5:14, RAC Translation & Amplification)
"No one lights a candle, and then hides it under some kind of covering or utensil. Rather, they put the candle on some kind of lampstand or decorative piece in order to elevate it so as to give light to the whole room.
"Let that light (My light) which is in you, therefore, radiate brilliantly in front of all men and women so that the value of your relationship with and in Me — manifested in the works, the signs and wonders — is demonstrated. That, in turn, will cause Father in Heaven to receive glory and honor and praise!"(Matthew 5:15-16, RAC Translation and Amplification)
OK! That was a bit windy and long, but I’m sure you see it. Everything that Jesus said and did was designed to bring Glory to Father. Everything that He said and did was nothing more than a duplication of what He had heard and seen in and from Father.
We have two metaphors here which essentially mirror each other in terms of our character and essence, being in Christ. In order to better understand why Jesus used these two metaphors, follow me back to the Law of Moses for a moment.
Leviticus 2:13, NASB: Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Numbers 18:19, NASB: All the offerings of the holy gifts, which the sons of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a perpetual allotment. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the LORD to you and your descendants with you.
The importance of salt as a spiritual picture cannot be over-stated! If we are to reflect the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, we MUST be that essence which flavors and adds savor to the land around.
When God commanded the priests and Levites to add salt to their sacrifices He was making it abundantly clear that everything they offered to Him had to have His savor.
The earth had been corrupted by sin, along with everything in it. The plants, the animals, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the air we breathe — the environment in its totality. Any offering that would come out of this environment had to be seasoned with salt. We’ll come back to this picture as we get farther along in this specific discussion.
We refer to these pictures a metaphors because they represent influence on their surroundings. Israel was a Covenanted people with God. Covenants were created between parties for the express purpose of making them as ONE unified being.
Consider the ancient pictures of farmers creating covenants with soldiers. Soldiers’ lives were spent in the defense and protection of their lands. Soldiers rarely had time to care for their own lands, and had no time to spend tilling the ground, sowing seed and harvesting grains, vegetables and fruits for their own food and preservation.
Farmers, on the other hand, were not skilled warriors and had little or no ability to engage in the art of war or be concerned with the defense of their lands or families. Covenants were often, therefore, created between farmers and warriors. The farmers and the warriors became as One!
The farmers covenanted with the warriors to become their source of food and sustenance. The warriors covenanted with the farmers to provide their defense, to ensure their safety, personally, as well as that of their families and their crops. With this covenant, each functioned not only for themselves, but for each other.
The Covenant of Salt that God made with Israel was a covenant in which Israel promised to serve God and be His representative in the earth. Israel became God’s unique people — a people who would demonstrate to the rest of the world just exactly what kind of life and what kind of provision God could and would make with those who would enter into a covenant relationship with Him.
God’s Covenant with Israel ensured that they would stand out in the earth above every other people. They would have the Blessing that God promised in Deuteronomy 28. Before we take a look at the very first part of God’s Covenant with Israel, consider the truth upon which He based His choosing of Israel in the first place:
Deuteronomy 7:7-11: The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.
Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
Israel wasn’t chosen because of their greatness, nor because of their numbers. They were chosen because of the oath — the Covenant — that God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob exhibited a faith and total trust in the Lord during a time and an era in which faith in God — YHWH — was absolutely non-existent. That faith was manifested when Abraham pleaded and bargained with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of not less than ten righteous people.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob WERE God’s salt in the land! They were the manifestation of His presence. They salted the earth in a time and place where thousands of idols and false gods permeated the nations and cultures, and where the practices we see and abhor with ISIS were the norm as a part of those nations’ cultures. That said, take a look at the benefits and blessings of Israel’s (and ours) Covenant of Salt.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2: And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
From this point forward, we see a sequence of the blessings which came of the Covenant. But look, now, at the consequences of walking away from the Covenant. Consider this small part of those consequences:
Deuteronomy 28:15, 29: But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.
Even if Israel failed to serve God, the judgment that came upon them and the bondage they fell into would also show to the world what happens to folks who live outside of a relationship with Him.
There is a key phrase in verse 29, however, that needs to be paid attention to: “and no man shall save thee.”
Get it? “No man…!” What God is saying to Israel is that His Covenant with them stands no matter what! No amount of human flesh or its endeavors will intervene to save them from the bondage they are in, BUT, if they will turn back to Him, He will save them and deliver them from the oppression of their enemies.
THAT is a Covenant which stands the test of time! That is a Covenant which says to the world, Israel has a Covenant relationship that ensures their deliverance whenever they turn to Him, whenever they repent of their wayward ways, whenever they once again acknowledge Him!
THAT, Folks, is the Covenant of Salt! It ensures that Israel would continually be a representative of the nature and character of God, that they would perpetually be a people in whom the presence of God will provide the savor and preservation of those who are around them.
And that brings us back to Jesus’ statement, “In the same way that salt personifies the need for seasoning, protection from spoilage or rotting, and preparation for soil to produce; in the same way that salt represents wisdom and grace in one’s speech and behavior, you are that grace and wisdom, that seasoning and protection for the world.”
WE are the new Covenant of Salt in the earth! As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are in Him, and He is in us.
We, therefore, become His presence in the earth.
We become His presence in our communities, among our families, among our friends and business associates.
We become His presence in the business world.
We become His presence in government.
On and on it goes! By the same token, just as there were consequences for the nation of Israel when it abandoned its covenant with the Lord, Jesus makes it clear — without threatening us — that if we fail in our responsibility to be His Salt — His life-changing Presence — that we can be cast aside.
That’s a statement that needs clarification. This is not some threat that we lose out on our eternal Salvation, but it DOES mean that we will miss our intended destiny and the Plan of God in our lives. Everyone of us have a Plan laid out before us by the Lord.
Holy Spirit leads, He nudges us, He pricks us, He quickens us, but He does NOT force us; and if we fail to follow His plan and design in such a way that God’s Glory is seen in us, we can be passed over and our assignment given to someone who will respond to His leading.
We'll continue this discussion next week.
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